Is Riot Games Losing Money on their Free-to-Play Games?

Riot Games is known for having purely free-to-play games with no known pay-to-win items for sale in any of their shops. While they make money selling skins and battle passes, people can’t help but wonder if they are losing money on the production of their games and esports events. As one of the companies that retain truly free-to-play games, we need to ask the question: Is Riot Games losing money on their games?

Riot Games’ True F2P Experience

Let’s get something straight, Riot Games hasn’t always had a true F2P experience in League of Legends since the existence of the original Rune system made it so that people who purchased runes and Rune Pages had a significant advantage in the game. Riot Games has removed every possible pay-to-win feature in League of Legends and most of its titles since revamping the Rune system so players no longer have to worry about any of their titles being P2W.

Cithria entering the city as a novice - Riot Games losing money
Is Riot Games losing money?

In the current era, none of Riot Games’ titles are hardcore P2W. The only argument to be made is Legends of Runeterra where people can buy chests that allow players to upgrade their deck. However, Legends of Runeterra’s crafting and rewards system is so generous that players barely have to put any effort to get any deck they want without spending money anyway. Regardless, a feature that allows players to gain an instant advantage by paying real money will always be considered P2W mechanics.

Aside from LoR, Riot Games has many game titles where they don’t offer any game-breaking mechanics that are paid. League of Legends has loot boxes and premium battle passes that offer exclusive currency but they only reward players with cosmetic items that don’t affect any game mechanics. That being said, there are so many premium products in Riot Games shops that it almost feels like the company is constantly trying to find new ways to force you to spend money.

Amumu crying over a broken sword - Riot Games losing money
Looking rough for Riot Games?

Riot Games losing money might be a simple rumor from fans since the game is aggressively trying to market its game using paid promotions and advertisements that you’d think Riot Games is made of money. However, it’s weird to think that a game that purely runs free-to-play games can keep up their servers online and consistently run high-cost esports events throughout the year and still provide relatively large prize supports.

Is Riot Games Losing Money?

Riot Games is most definitely not losing money in a way that should worry fans about the future of the company. The company is reportedly making huge money per annum in all of its major titles, especially in its mobile titles. League of Legends: Wild Rift is making so much money that it probably carries any other title that might be doing poorly in terms of sales performance. This is because the mobile gaming community is notorious for being big spenders on premium products, especially in gacha games.

League of Legends continues to make a lot of money on its cosmetics and partnerships with other companies that want to promote and advertise themselves in esports tournaments. The same can be said for VALORANT, which is continuously growing in popularity among the esports community. VALORANT even managed to break a personal record in terms of prizing structure due to the overwhelming success of the title.

How is Riot Games Making So Much Money?

We’ve already mentioned a lot of ways Riot Games is making money but let’s take a look at them in detail. Riot Games losing money isn’t something that is currently a problem for the company because they are smart about marketing their games. Here are some reasons Riot Games is successfully earning more money each year despite their games becoming more and more obsolete:

  • Regularly cycling cosmetic items in the shops.
  • Rewarding Battle Passes that are cheap and fun to play.
  • Tons of limited-time discounts that trigger players’ FOMO.
  • Regular community engagement to make players develop a connection with the game.
  • Consistently bringing out quality esports events and selling items that support esports teams.
  • Promotional content that slowly builds up hype for an upcoming product.
  • Collaborations with other companies like Xbox (Battle Pass).
The new knife in VALORANT modeled after Viego's sword - Riot Games losing money
Lots of cool products for sale!

In addition to these things, the community in League of Legends and VALORANT often interact with each other in public forums, giving mostly positive feedback on new item releases that draw in more people to purchase their products. Even though the community isn’t intentionally promoting Riot Games, they are unknowingly selling the games’ products for the company. Unlike games like WoW which constantly have people trash-talking cosmetic items, Riot Games has armies of fans that give positive comments.

Will Riot Games Even Introduce Pay-to-Win Features?

The current system works extremely well for all their existing games so it’s hard to imagine them being so greedy that they’ll risk adding mechanics that will intentionally draw backlash from the fans. Once they introduce a mechanic that fans will publicly talk about negatively, their sales will start to tank. Riot Games losing money will become a reality but only for a short period of time until fans eventually come crawling back to the game they have grown so addicted to playing.

Chamber holding a premium gun - Riot Games losing money
That won’t be the case!

The probability of Riot Games making a huge blunder isn’t entirely out of the question. They are still releasing a lot of different titles in the future and the one game that fans are concerned about is the Riot Games MMO. Free-to-play MMORPGs have always had some form of major P2W mechanics that simply make it impossible for F2P users to catch up. However, it’s too early to say that a game is P2W without seeing actual game mechanics and the premium store.

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